Defenseman Jeff Schultz and forward Nic Dowd each scored, but it was not enough as the Ontario Reign (17-7-2-1) fell 4-2 against the Charlotte Checkers (18-11-1-1) in front of a sellout crowd of 9,491 Saturday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
On the Schultz goal, forward Derek Army recorded his first AHL point in his team debut tonight.
“It was definitely a cool experience,” said Arnold. “Coach said he liked our effort and we got to keep moving forward. I thought we had some really good chances in the third and second and we were all over the net. It just didn’t go in and that happens, but I think we build from that.”
Though the Reign began the game outshooting the Checkers 10-4, Charlotte controlled the majority of the first period, seizing the puck quickly and with authority, and scored on the power play at 14:46 thanks to defenseman Ryan Murphy. Derek Ryan and Justin Shugg were credited with the assists.
The Checkers struck again at 18:14 when forward Sergey Tolchinsky snuck one past netminder Peter Budaj assisted by Ryan for his second point of the night and forward Brock McGinn.
Trailing by two entering the middle frame, Schultz wristed a shot into the net at 8:46 for his first goal of the 2015-16 campaign. Forward Sean Backman and Arnold tallied an assist.
Shugg made it 3-2 when he fired in his shot through traffic at 12:35. Ontario continued to tack on more shots that were turned away by netminder Rasmus Tirronen.
Not to be outdone, Nic Dowd capitalized on a power-play opportunity at 19:19 to trim the deficit back to one. Backman received the assist, extending his point total to a team-high 23 points. The last time Ontario scored a power play goal was against the Checkers on Sunday, December 6, 2015, a span of seven games.
Ontario continued to outshoot Charlotte in the final frame, but it was the Checkers who came up victorious as forward T.J. Hensick buried an empty-net marker at 18:58 to seal the win.
Budaj made 10 saves in the loss, while Tirronen recorded 35 stops.